As many of you may know, I took a royal beating in Boston. The heat was miserable, but I made some rookie mistakes too. I am going to share those mistakes with all of you, so you learn from my mistakes and hopefully avoid the need for medical attention or in my case two ambulance rides to the ER and 4 1/2 bags of fluids!
The first mistake I made was ignoring my own needs. The reality is, you must take care of yourself first! That may seem like some very un-3-Dayer-like advice, but consider this - if you don't take care of yourself, you WILL go down and then you are no good to anybody! However, if you take care of your own hydration needs and minimize your own heat exposure you will remain strong and capable of helping not only your team mates, but other 3 Dayers as well. It is sort of like the advice the airlines give you about oxygen masks. Put your own mask on first, and then assist others around you!
The second mistake I made was not concentrating on my electrolyte balance. Although I was alternating between water and a sports drink (I add Propel powder to my water because I HATE Gatorade), I was perspiring heavily. I typically carry electrolyte tablets when walking in extreme heat. I learned this on my very first 3-Day. I was walking in Tampa Bay in 2009. The heat index was similar to the conditions we experienced in Boston this year. Luckily, I was walking with experienced walkers who taught me all about electrolyte tablets. They were a God send, and kept us all in good condition. Obviously, you should consult a physician to make sure electrolyte tablets will not interact with any medication you take or aggravate any conditions you may suffer from. However, if your doctor says electrolyte tablets are safe for you, they should be a staple in your fanny pack .... especially when you know you will be walking in severe or extreme heat. I forgot my electrolyte tablets and paid a price for that oversight!
The third mistake was being stubborn! I knew my core temperature was too high, I knew I was dehydrated (I hadn't peed in hours and I had stopped perspiring), and I knew I was heading down a bad path. Instead of listening to my body and giving it a break, I pushed myself so I could set up my tent (and helped a team mate set up hers too). What I should have done, was drop my stuff off, headed for some water and some shade and rested until I cooled down and gave my body a chance to rehydrate. Lets face it, the tents weren't going anywhere!
The forth mistake I made was not eating. I have a very restricted diet (by choice) and I am an extremely picky eater. I was not taking in enough calories to maintain that level of activity. Although I do not eat bread, chips, cookies, or sugar of any kind (basically I don't eat anything Komen was serving for lunch except the apple), I am sure if I asked I could have had more apples, bananas or oranges to make up the difference. I also had almonds in my fanny pack (for protein and energy), but I was saving them for when I got really hungry! Um .... I was HUNGRY!!!!! After this experience, I totally get how people die of dehydration in the desert but still have water in their canteens .... they were saving it! I also could have stopped on the route at any number of places to pick up something I DO eat for lunch! You are responsible for yourself, and you must address your own needs!
As you can see, I made some crucial mistakes and paid the price for them. I don't want anybody to go through that, so I am willing to share my stupidity with all of you. For those of you who know me well, I always try to turn a negative into something positive. I am not always successful, but I do try. Anyways, I am hoping that in sharing my negative experience and mistakes, we all learn what not to do as well as what may have helped.
Hugs and kisses .... AND HAPPY WALKING,